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After Netanyahu, Abbas time for Blinken


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The US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, in a new exercise of balance, called on Israelis and Palestinians to tone down and reduce tension in the shadow of new deadly violent incidents in the last 24 hours

By Athena Papakosta

The US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken in a new balance exercise called on Israelis and Palestinians to tone down and reduce tension in the shadow of new deadly violent incidents in the last 24 hours. The sharp escalation of violence in the region has rattled the Biden administration and made it difficult for the Blinken mission to find common ground with Israel’s new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

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The US Secretary of State landed in Israel during one of the bloodiest periods inside the country in recent years. In his statements, immediately after his meeting with the Israeli prime minister, he called for an immediate de-escalation, calling on both sides to take joint steps in this direction, as he underlined “we want to make sure that there is an environment in which, I hope to some extent, to create the conditions from which we can begin to restore a sense of security for both Israelis and Palestinians.” Mr. Blinken, however, did not clearly describe what those steps could be as he did not provide examples, while it remains unknown whether the US government will do so in the near future.

For his part, Benjamin Netanyahu made no mention of the new outbreak of violence and chose to emphasize the dangers his country faces due to Iran while underlining his hope for the extension of the “Abraham Accords” according to which normalized Israel’s relations with some Arab countries. Regarding the latter point, Blinken, taking the baton a few minutes later, pointed out that Washington supports the extension of the Normalization Agreements but made it clear that they could not act as a substitute for a two-state solution to what concerns the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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For Washington, the only way to move developments forward is the two-state solution, and that is why the American Foreign Minister reiterated the position of the United States. “Anything that moves us away from that vision is, in our view, detrimental to Israel’s long-term security and its long-term identity as a Jewish and democratic state,” said Anthony Blinken, who is visiting Ramallah today for talks with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. For his part, Netanyahu did not respond on the matter.

His new government has been formed by various far-right and ultra-Orthodox partners who oppose the idea of ​​an independent Palestinian state while supporting settlement expansion in the West Bank where Palestinians dream of a state of their own. Already this past weekend, the new government of Benjamin Netanyahu took a series of measures against the Palestinians, including the strengthening of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The last round of US-sponsored talks on establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel stalled in 2014. Meanwhile, according to a survey released last week by the Palestinian Policy and Research Center, 33 percent of Palestinians and 34 percent of Israelis is in favor of the two-state solution with two-thirds of Palestinians and 53% of Israelis saying no.

Blinken continues his Middle Eastern tour amid this explosive environment. Ramallah’s turn comes as the Palestinian Authority has already cut off security cooperation with Israel following the deadly Israeli military raid on the Jenin camp. At the same time, the American consulate in Jerusalem that served the Palestinians has not reopened, while the “lock” also remains at the Palestinian mission in Washington. The US Secretary of State is expected to repeat the two-state solution in his meeting with Abbas, who hopes that Washington will, in the end, put more pressure on the Israeli and not the Palestinian side.

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